MONTEREY PARK — Judy Chu, who promised to bridge cultural gaps in this ethnically diverse community, and Betty Couch, long an ardent fighter against development, easily defeated six other City Council candidates Tuesday, including incumbent Cam Briglio.
Even though the campaign was as rowdy as many of the recent council meetings, the two winners and the three holdover council members promised that the results would lead to an end of divisive conflicts.
"I think we're going to start taking care of business now," said a happy Councilman Barry L. Hatch.
In addition to Briglio's departure, the council will lose G. Monty Manibog, who did not seek reelection to the council seat he had held for 12 years. Manibog lost his bid for city treasurer.
Chu, a 34-year-old clinical psychologist and college teacher who serves as a Garvey Unified School District trustee, got 3,538 votes, or 24.5% of those cast. Couch, a 43-year-old member of the city's Parks and Recreation Commission, got 2,854 votes, or 19.8%.
Chu, who will become the only Asian on the council, said she won because of her ability to gain the support of a cross-section of all ethnic groups.
"I think there is a false impression out there that all Chinese people want to overdevelop the city," she said. "That is not true. There are a lot of Chinese residents that have the same concerns as Japanese residents, that have the same concerns as white residents, and as Hispanic residents. There has been an awful lot of divisiveness in this city, but . . . there are ways of bringing us together."
Couch said she will be "intent on getting along with all of (the council members) and on voting my principles. We want development, but we want quality development."
Chu, who finished first in the field of eight, and Couch will join Councilwoman Patricia Reichenberger to form what apparently will be the council's first female majority.
Briglio, who was not at City Hall while the votes were counted Tuesday night, said Wednesday: "I don't feel like talking . . . right now."
First elected four years ago, Briglio finished in fifth place with 1,467 votes, or 10%. Last year he survived a recall attempt when opponents failed to collect enough valid signatures against him.
George Ristic, a member of the Planning Commission, finished third with 2,464 votes, or 17%. Trailing were businessman Fred Balderrama, with 2,100 votes, or 14.5%; Briglio; businesswoman Marie T. Purvis, with 1,467 votes, or 6.2%; photographer Frank J. Arcuri, with 620 votes, or 4.2%, and acupuncturist Victoria Wu, with 516 votes, or 3.5%
The 8,044 voters represented 35.9% of the city's 22,436 registered voters.
Both Chu and Couch attributed their victories to vigorous door-to-door campaigning.
"I ran a clean campaign," Chu said. "I think (voters) responded to that. They responded to honesty, integrity and independence. I did not have to be backed by developer money . . . and special-interest groups."
In her campaign literature, she bemoaned "overcrowding . . . too many mini-malls . . . too many condos" in the city, which has undergone a rapid transformation in the last decade because of Asian immigrants.
More than half the population is now of Asian ancestry. Another 25% to 30% is Latino, 15% Anglo and 2% black. A survey of voter registration records by the Asian Pacific Voter Registration Project showed that last fall one-third of the registered voters were classified as Asian-Pacific.
Despite the talk of unity, the new council will have to resolve bitterness over harsh words exchanged during the campaign.
That process will take work, said Mayor Christopher F. Houseman.
"Just about everybody in Monterey Park is happy to see the election over," he said. "Most people felt the campaign got too ugly and too much money was spent. Everybody is breathing a sigh of relief."
Chu said she is certain she can work well with the other council members, including Houseman, who indirectly criticized her in a flyer he mailed last weekend.
Houseman, who was not up for reelection, mailed voters a four-page leaflet that praised his four council colleagues for their good work in the last two years. In a section about the election, Houseman quoted from Chu's campaign literature and criticized her, although not by name, for negative campaigning.
"It's unfortunate," Chu said of Houseman's leaflet.
Likewise, Houseman had been critical of Couch during recent council meetings. But after her victory, Couch said of Houseman: "I think we can work together. He's not unreasonable."
Couch was criticized by Houseman, Manibog and Briglio for her charges that the city was being forced to buy "poor-quality water." Couch, who had said she was not trying to scare people, acknowledged that the water issue hurt her at the polls.
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